Closed-ImageUPDATED: Meals on Wheels is back to normal service.

UPDATED:  Meals on Wheels for WNY will be serving weekend clients (and anyone else that Social Work has identified as in-need through their phone calls) on Friday, November 21, 2014.  Weekend clients can expect to receive meals mid-afternoon.

We anticipate being back to regular service on Monday, November 24, 2014.

Critical staff to report at 8 a.m. on Friday the 21st.

UPDATED: Meals on Wheels for WNY will be closed Thursday, November 20, 2014.

BUFFALO, NY – Meals on Wheels for WNY produces more than 5,000 meals per day to feed the homebound seniors and disabled individuals in WNY, as well as those who are mobile enough to get to their local congregate dining site.

To get 5,000 meals a day – spanning five different diets – out to 25 home-delivered and 43 congregate dining sites is a precision operation covering myriad details.

Those operational details include extensive planning for emergencies.  Unfortunately, Meals on Wheels for WNY will be closed three days this week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, November 18 – 20, 2014.  So how does Meals on Wheels make sure that the homebound in our community are safe and fed throughout the storm?

•Pre-planning:  Every client is coached on what supplies to have on-hand when they come on service.  Each fall Meals on Wheels sends materials to every client reminding them to have stores of water, canned goods, and other items they may need in the event of a weather emergency.  Article 1.  Article 2.

•Blizzard boxes: When a client comes on service, a Meals on Wheels Social Worker assesses his or her support network.  For those with no or very limited local support, we sign them up for two additional services.  The first of these is “blizzard boxes.”  At the beginning of each winter season, we give these high-risk clients a box of bottled water, powdered milk, tuna, peanut butter, crackers and other non-perishable items to be used in the event that Meals on Wheels is not able to deliver.  (Read about the second assistance, weekend boxes, below.)

•Client calls:

oAny time that Meals on Wheels is closed organization-wide, all high-risk clients are called to make sure that they have adequate supplies on-hand.  If they have used their blizzard box or do not have supplies, we will re-deliver a new box ASAP.

oAny time that Meals on Wheels if closed in a specific community, all clients in that community are contacted to ensure they have adequate supplies on-hand.  If they need support, we will deliver a blizzard box.

oBy tomorrow morning, all 1,800 current Meals on Wheels clients will have received a call from their Social Worker or Nutritionist to make sure that they are safe, secure and have adequate supplies as we head into day three of the closure.  Our Social Workers will work with our emergency partners (below) to ensure that anyone who needs supplies is assisted.

•Emergency partners:  We have partnerships with the Sheriff’s office, local police departments and local fire stations throughout our footprint.  These partners also received blizzard boxes at the beginning of the season.  They stand ready to assist with re-delivery as needed at any point in the storm.

•Anticipated return to service:

oPending the end of the travel ban in South Buffalo (where the Meals on Wheels commissary is) Meals on Wheels anticipates opening on Friday.

oThe goal Friday will be to serve all clients who are not in communities with continuing travel bans and to get “weekend boxes” out to all high-risk clients.  Weekend boxes include four meals to get those with very limited support through the weekend in a healthy and safe manner.

oMeals on Wheels anticipates re-delivering blizzard boxes to any clients who have used their first box early next week.

“The outpouring of support from the local community is simply more proof that we are the city of good neighbors,” Tara A. Ellis, President and CEO, said. “Please keep checking on any neighbors or family members who are isolated and alone.  Meals on Wheels will continue to work to ensure that every one of our clients is safe and has adequate means to make it through the storm. If, however, you are aware of someone in a crisis situation please contact 911 or the appropriate authorities.  We thank you for all you are doing to help us achieve our mission and hope you will continue through volunteer work or donations to provide all of the support that makes our work possible.”